Bob, my very friendly Winnipeg-ian airplane companion, made me promise to say that! "It's not cold here...it's beautiful!" It is truly beautiful, and only -20 outside. :)
I'm fairly certain your four day weekend has not been as eventful as mine! :) My travel fear almost came true as I sat in the Denver airport waiting to board my flight to Winnipeg. They announced that due to poor weather in Winnipeg, we might have to be diverted to FARGO!!! I felt like I was in a bad movie... Luckily, that did not happen, we landed in Winnipeg on time, and I made it to the train station on time to catch the train to Churchill. Phew...the train only leaves every two days!!!
The train ride was amazing! Like many of you pointed out, we passed through several small towns, often letting one or two people off or on, and some beautiful ecosystems. The Boreal Forest was dense with trees, all covered in white. You could not see far off the tracks. As we headed farther north, the trees thinned and the vistas got wider, due to the greater prevalence of permafrost. And then farther still, most of the trees had branches only on their southern sides. Why do you think that was? Sometimes the train travelled at speeds less than 10 mph due to the instability of the tracks on the permafrost and the amount of snow on the tracks! It definitely was "the scenic route!" We saw a red fox and ptarmagins outside the windows, but no moose or caribou.
Several of the people on my Earthwatch team were on the train as well...one other high school teacher from New York, a doctor from Australia, and, wait for it...the rest of my team all work for Shell Oil!!! They are coming from all over the world, and Shell is paying for their trip. Is studying climate change and making your living on fossil fuels a conflict of interest? Or do we need to find a way for both issues to work together? What are your thoughts? What should I ask them?
I am at the Churchill Northern Studies Center now. Tonight was our first introductory lecture with Dr. Pete and tomorrow we begin sampling. We will be collecting snow cores, analyzing snow crystal shape, and measuring conductivity due to Hudson Bay spray and pH at 11 different sampling sites.
Today I rented snow pants worthy of Arctic conditions and explored the town of Churchill. The Eskimo Museum (they used the word Eskimo, not me) was full of interesting artifacts. I learned that if you are attacked by a polar bear, you should present your forearm to the bear because he will not be able to get his mouth open large enough to fit it. When he tries, you should stab him in the neck. Hopefully that is practical knowledge that I will never need!!! In fact, the likelihood of my seeing a polar bear at this time of year is slim. BUT I did see a female gray wolf today!!! She was amazingly beautiful! Her fur is worth about $1000 so hopefully she will not make herself so visible in the future...
Here are your questions to have ready for Tuesday morning:
1. What should I ask the Shell employees regarding fossil fuels and climate change? See the questions in the above paragraph.
2. What does it mean to create a "baseline of data?" (That is what we are working on in Churchill.)
3. If you were Dr. Pete and had 14 volunteers collecting your research data at 11 different sites, what are some of the variables you would control? How would you prepare us (the data collectors) to do quality work? Be as specific as possible.
Love to hear from you! Be nice to Ms. Duffy...she will take names! :)
Remember...you can respond to me directly on the site, but you MUST turn in your Blog Challenge answers to Ms Duffy on the due date to receive credit!!! NO LATE BLOG CHALLENGES WILL BE ACCEPTED FOR POINTS!!! :)